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Why The Virus Makes No Sense In Independence Day

It was the summer of 1996, back when original theatrical movies could still be blockbusters (no offense, Marvel Cinematic Universe). Along came director Roland Emmerich's alien invasion spectacle "Independence Day," which opened domestically to $50 million on its way to $817 million worldwide in grosses, per Box Office Mojo. That equates to about a kajillion dollars today. Emmerich's eventual sequel, 2016's "Independence Day: Resurgence" didn't fare nearly as well, though still better than his latest sci-fi disaster flick, "Moonfall." Clearly, the man spends a lot of time thinking about Earth's demise.

"Independence Day" is often remembered for its iconic scene where the aliens blow up the White House, which rattled audiences the moment the first trailer debuted. But this was also the film that blew Will Smith into the superstar stratosphere. Smith starred alongside Bill Pullman, Mary McDonnell, and sci-fi legend Jeff Goldblum. The movie worked as an action film, but it also had a fair sense of humor. As far as '90s popcorn movies go, this one deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Despite not taking itself too seriously, the film was not without some head-scratching moments, like when Captain Hiller (Smith) first encounters one of the strange-looking aliens and promptly knocks it out with a punch to the face. It's not human, so why would that even work? What if its head was made of iron? Or acid like the titular creature in "Alien?" Who just punches an alien? Maybe we can forgive that one, but there's a much bigger issue with what turns out to be the key to mankind actually defeating the entire invading creature horde.

The virus had a serious hardware problem

So how do humans save the day in "Independence Day," you ask? It's a fair question since clearly, the aliens have superior technology and weapons. Surprise — we use a virus! Not like the one that terrorized our planet in 2020, or even the germs that did the trick in the '50s in "War of the Worlds." No, we use a computer virus to completely cripple the way, way out-of-towners and their mighty space-faring armada. That's right, some '90s-era malware takes out a far more advanced enemy, one who apparently didn't bother to invest in a simple virus protection plan that probably would have run them about $5 a month.

But that's not even the worst part of this lunacy. How on Earth (or off it for that matter) is our fiendish computer program even compatible with the alien technology? Did they shop at the Apple store on Alpha Beta 7 when building their spaceship? We can't even connect half our own devices if they're two different brands! Try plugging in a USB cord without a USB-C adapter, see how that goes. How could we possibly hack an alien system that fast? We were barely even an e-mail savvy race in 1996. There are intricate and unique computer languages involved in coding. In what universe does any of this make sense?

That said, "Independence Day" is still a fun movie, as long as you take all the plot logic with a grain of salt — which was likely the intent. Still, why not just let Will Smith karate chop all the big mean space monsters? It would have made about as much sense.